Elevation: 2757 feet
I summitted Mount Saint Catherine!!
Our friend Jude (who was a former tour guide) is also on holiday and on the island and hanging out with us quite a bit. So he was willing to take me "somewhere" on a hike. Then Vaughn, another friend, but our "official tour guide" was also willing to go on a hike with me. But Dennis has been filling his head about my ultra running, so he was a bit dubious he could keep up with me.
Vaughn suggested that we tackle Mount St Catherine's, the highest peak on the island, and I was good with that choice! So Vaughn and I were off, we had about a 1.5 hour drive to get to a good place to leave the vehicle, aka the trail head.
The road went from asphalt, to concrete, to then dirt road, then the dirt road about petered out, and Vaughn found a good place to park the van, and we started on our hike upwards.
|The Summit is the peak in the far distance! Oh shit!|
At one point, Vaughn announced "the climb starts now" which was at about the 1.8 mile mark according to Garmin.
Climb we did! It is about a half mile uphill. You are climbing, more than walking. You fit your feet into muddy toeholds, and pull yourself up with stable roots, trees, vines. You test these structures before using them!
Being short legged again reared as a disadvantage. There would be a foothold ten or eleven inches up, but I didn't have enough leg to swng up to it. So I would plant my knee in the hold, use my quads to push up, and then get my foot into the foothold.
|Still going up!!|
Remember the little warning in the Hardrock Manual on certain areas? Exposure, acrophobia?
We were getting up there, and we popped out of the jungle undergrowth to the blue sky above.
The trail was totally exposed. We were on a very narrow trail between two drop offs. Of course, there was alot of dense foliage around that helped hide the steep drop offs.
I was very careful on these sections. Climb up we went. I liked it much better when we weren't on the exposed surfaces.
I got to certain section where it was an almost vertical ascent of only about four feet. There were footholds kicked in-very muddy. There was even a rope to grab onto, to help your ascent. This was also an exposed area.
I studied it, trying to figure out where to put my feet Vaughn suggested grabbing the rope with both hands, but I was afraid that would "swing me" out away from the rock/mud face. I was a little dubious. I wasn't sure I could do this. My legs weren't long enough for the foot holds.
Then I grabbed the rope with my right hand, found some footholds, and hauled myself up the slope. I wasn't sure at all about how I was going to get DOWN this same spot,but I resolved that was a problem for the future. Next step, climb on up the mountain!
Vaughn and I hung out at top for just a short while, taking pics, eating a snack. There was a great breeze up top which was awesome. But soon, it was t ime to start down.
As I thought, it was just as difficult to go down as it was to climb up. Going down was slick, and trying to keep your feet under you was work. And the "exposed" parts were just as..um exhilerating as they were going up.
Vaughn adivsed me I was getting to the rope part. I looked at the rope, looked at the ground. I just wasn't sure how to do it. I didn't know how I could reach over, to the rope, that far--and just beyond the rope, was the edge of the world!
Vaughn asked if I wanted him to go first, and I heartily endorsed that. That made all the difference. I watched-and he told me-where to put my feet. Okay, right foot here, left foot there, grab the tree branch with both hands, now grab the rope with your right, and just kind of lower yourself-find the toe hold with your left foot, okay, down!
|The picture just doesn't show how this was vertical. From this angle, it looks like you have easy footholds! Also, you can't see the drop off on either side of the trail|
|Vaughn waiting for me just below the rope section|
There was another "exposed" area or two, then we just dropped back down into the jungle, where it was just trying to figure out footholds so I didn't fall and slide down on my backside.
|This is nutmeg BTW|
|Mr Cow was still there|
I was a little muddy, but not as bad as I expected to be. I thought I would be covered it mud.
It took us two hours to go up and two to descend, due to being careful in the slick muddy conditions. I had a great time. It was tough trail. The exposures probably would not be good for the faint of heart. Vaughn was an excellent guide and we had a great time together.
Edit: This blog post was written, same day, next day, after our hike. I just wanted to comment on the little section with the rope.
I faced this rope, this slick little climb. Mentally, I was "I can't do this. I can't get up there. I am going to fail. I am going to have to quit an 1/4/ or 1/8 mile to the summit." I was totally "I can't do this".
This was kind of ..different..for me. I have just not had the complete mind break down like this, in a while.
It was legit. It was a dicy situation. I was surprised to be in the situation, where I was actually scared.
This only took..30, 50 seconds, in my head? I am sure, not longer than that.
Then I just took action. I did not think any longer. I just swung my left leg up, found a foot hold, got a hold with my right hand, and ascended the slope. I got up the short dicy section. I was so happy, and so stoked for myself. I was still pretty wondering about going back DOWN the same section, but I did figure I would work that out when it happened..
I just wanted to say, I was very pleased to get over the mental block of how "I couldn't" do this section of trail, and just went ahead and did it. Sometimes we are better off shutting down the mental side, the part that is doing too much worrying (maybe too much thinking) and just going off and doing things!